On a scorching Monday morning, local, state and federal officials gathered just off Zeuber Road at the Port of Little Rock for the announcement of new funding and for the groundbreaking of a new public infrastructure project.
In total, more than $11 million has been committed for transportation infrastructure improvements at the Port of Little Rock. Zeuber Road will be widened and improved – a $5 million investment made possible through a partnership of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the City of Little Rock and Pulaski County.
Another $6 million will also go toward public infrastructure to improve roads and intersections, which are aimed at increasing the transportation capacity in the area. These road improvements will be focused on two new companies – Amazon and CZ-USA – that are putting new hubs in the Port of Little Rock.
Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde called the announcement of the new funding and the road improvements “one of the most significant economic development projects in Central Arkansas’ history.” He told the crowd that the road improvements would be “vital to the expansion of the port,” and he expected employment in the area to increase significantly in the coming year, saying that approximately 2,500 permanent jobs would be added by spring 2021.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. called the new project the “entryway to Little Rock’s new economic future.” The infrastructure improvements, he said. Will serve as the “glue” for economic development in the Port of Little Rock and are designed to accelerate growth and bring more companies to the area.
“Little Rock’s location and business-friendly environment make it an ideal choice for companies looking to invest, and I’m confident that improvements to the infrastructure at the Port of Little Rock will continue to attract new business to the area,” Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Commerce Mike Preston said in a statement. “Increasing the industrial quality of Zeuber Road will benefit the city and its economic partners for many years to come.”
Currently, there are more than 40 companies based at the Port of Little Rock, employing approximately 4,000 individuals.
Several companies have committed to adding a presence in the port in recent months. Amazon purchased 80 acres of land on Zeuber Road for a location, which followed the news that the online retailer was setting up a distribution center in Little Rock off I-30. CZ-USA announced its plans to set up its North American headquarters in Little Rock in April 2019. It will be building a $90 million firearms manufacturing facility.
Also, a Michigan-based manufacturing company announced in 2019 its intention to establish a manufacturing facility at the port. HMS Manufacturing Co., which produces storage, laundry, waste and kitchen products, committed to a $20 million investment to develop a 550,000 square foot facility and to create 90 new jobs over the course of two years.